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Candidates up for nomination today

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Today is Nomination Day in St.Vincent and the Grenadines where candidates competing in this year’s General Elections will be nominated.{{more}}

The incumbent Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) are expected to field 15 candidates each. It is not clear how many candidates the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Green Party will be putting forward.

SEARCHLIGHT was reliably informed that ULP candidates Elvis Charles (a teacher), and public servants Maxwell Charles and Frederick Stephenson, tendered their resignations earlier this week.

However, a bone of contention brewed up until Wednesday when Kay Bacchus-Browne, lawyer for teachers Addison “Bash” Thomas and Elvis Daniel of the NDP, cried foul on the matter of leave for her clients. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union also joined the fray.

Bacchus-Browne said the situation faced by her clients is unfair, because she was informed that Charles of the ULP, was granted leave.

She said Daniel’s letter of application for Election Leave, dated November 12, and Thomas’ letter of Election Leave, dated November 15, to Tyrone Burke, Chief Personnel Officer, received the same response from Burke, which stated: “I wish to draw your attention to Section 26 (1) (d) of the Constitution of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Cap 2 of the Laws of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Revised Edition, 1990”.

She said that article disqualifies the holder of a public office from running as a candidate.

However, she contended that Article 16 of the Collective Agreement signed between the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union in 2005, states: “A member of the Union of at least three years standing shall on application be granted leave of absence to contest national general local elections. The leave of absence shall be no pay leave for a period not exceeding six months.

“In the event that the member is unsuccessful that member shall return to his or her original post or one of equivalent status, all benefits in tact,” said Bacchus-Browne, adding the resumption of duty must be at the beginning of a school term.

Bacchus-Browne said that Burke failed to answer her clients as to whether they will be granted leave.

“I want the press to really run with this you know in a serious manner, because the discrimination in this country has gone too far,” said Bacchus-Browne.

Meanwhile, the Teachers Union in a letter to Burke stated that denying Daniel and Thomas leave was a breach of Article 16 of the Collective Agreement.

“We are asking you kindly to honour the Government’s agreement with the SVGTU, and grant these members the election leave as provided for in Article 16 of the Collective Agreement,” stated the letter from Margaret Lewis-Jackson, General Secretary of the Union.

When contacted on Wednesday, Burke said the only action he took was to draw Daniel and Thomas’ attention to the article mentioned in his letter.

“I suggest that they get legal people to guide them,” said Burke.

He did not state whether he had denied or would have granted Daniel and Thomas leave of absence.

Last week, Sylvia Findlay, Supervisor of Elections, announced Returning Officers will today between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 noon proceed to the nomination of candidates. She said if there is no opposition to the nominations then they shall proceed to ensure that the election of members to the House of Assembly will be held for the constituencies.

Polling stations will be open from 7a.m to 5p.m. on December 13, when Vincentians will vote in the General Elections.

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